Officials To Probe Call-Offs At Allegheny County Jail

By Marty Griffin

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County leaders are angry about what they call a significant number of call-offs at the Allegheny County Jail over the Super Bowl weekend.

County leaders tell the KDKA Investigators close to 160 corrections officers called off sick between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning.

Investigators say the call-offs will cost county taxpayers nearly $24,000 in overtime.

“We have to get more internal procedures down there,” says County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty. He just finished an audit pointing out nearly $3 million in overtime at the jail each year.

“What we need to do is correct the system and allow for more internal controls and procedures that eliminate the abuse,” he said.

A KDKA Investigation reveals the call-offs aren’t just limited to Super Bowls. In 2009, nearly 40 corrections officers called of the first day of trout season, 48 called off the night of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup and 82 called off Super Bowl Sunday that year.

Right now, the county says every corrections officer that called-off this weekend will have to provide a written excuse or they will face disciplinary action.

Meantime, union leaders representing the corrections officers say they are always short-handed. Union leaders say the county has to hire more corrections officers.

  • Dan

    Flaherty should probe his own butt hole, people are entitled to call off whenever they want. The over time is built in the call off system anyway, so it doesnt cost any more if everyone calls off on a single day or one person calls off every day…this is just people trying to make something out of nothing…investigate the mayor and dan the man using election funds to fly to the superbowl idiots

    • FixPGH

      Um, if I was working that day and people called off forcing me to be there longer, I wouldn’t be happy. Would you have been happy to miss the Super Bowl because others that were scheduled to work decided they wanted to watch it and they were more entitled to watching it than you? My old job there is a guy that called off constantly. I left because of his irresponsibility and total lack of compassion for the rest of us. If I wanted a Saturday off (which was rare) for plans I made, he wouldn’t work them. His going out and drinking was more important than anyone else’s plans. The fact that he didn’t have children, school, or play sports like I do that requried me taking a Saturday off once a month should have been the key factor in him working when needed. He is still working there and still calling off and why hasn’t he been fired? He isn’t productive, is rude to customers, and just overall a horrible person. But he gets away with it so he will continue to do it.

      • Concerned

        The fact that you left your job due to one person doesn’t say a whole lot. I would think there had to be other factors as to why you left. I’m guessing that he had more seniority than you and unfortunately that is a HUGE issue at the jail. Especially when it comes to time off. The fact that ALL 6 weeks of vacation is picked at one time and done so based on seniority is ridiculous. Make everyone pick their first 2 weeks then pass around the schedule. Once everyone has the opportunity to make their first 2 week selections, then let everyone make the rest of them. The same with the OT and forces. They need to go around the entire employee list even if it takes a whole month or two and everyone has the opportunity to get forced. Not start over at the beginning of the next week with the bottom on the seniority list. There are real issues at the jail with scheduling, time off, FMLA, etc…
        And how about those people who really did need to call off on Super Bowl Sunday and it wasn’t for the Super Bowl. I don’t know about you but I don’t go to the doctor every single time I am sick. Sometimes, if you have the flu all you need is a good day of rest. If they wanted an excuse from me and didn’t normally require it, I’d be asking for to be reimbursed for my copay that I had to pay for b/c they wanted the excuse!!!

      • FixPGH

        Actually, Concerned, my reason was the only reason why I left. He had no senority over me what so ever, being he was hired 2 years after me. But he acted like he had senority. I was supposed to train him. I’d tell him “you need to take an order, I can’t have you working on it while they wait, that’s not how we do things.” And he’d tell me to “shut up.” He has a problem with authority I think, and I think he has a problem with working. He wants to earn money but not work. The minute he has sick or vacation hours, he uses them to call off. I don’t work with people like that, I was sick of being taken advantage of. He was lazy and rude enough to make me go find a new job. I work with teams, not as the goat.

        Unfortunately, no, not all of them will have an excuse whether they were really sick or not. Thanks to the 70 other people that called off that day, the 10 that may have actually been sick are out of luck.

  • The_exorcist

    Another sensationaist report that only tells one side of the story. We expect nothing less from Marty. I wish he would find some real news instead of picking on public workers. Last year it was the paramedics, this year I guess the jail guards are on the chopping block. I invite Marty to spend just one week working either job. People can call off when they want. I agree with Dan, just trying to make news out of nothing. The sad part is how many people will read this dribble and believe it.

  • Rick

    Exactly! If they only called off for one shift, then the county has no legal right to demand written excuses. How many County Leaders have missed because of such events involving Pittsburgh sports teams? Better yet who pays for that? Oh yeah, the taxpayer!

  • Idiot Reporter

    Maybe the warden should do what every other company does that works shifts, ASK the employees who is willing to work on Super Bowls and Stanley Cup playoff first. Then the time is filled BEFORE the day of the event, and it will keep the slimy reporters out of the jail, the police station and the bus garages looking to make up news!

  • Amanda

    That mind set of people can call off whenever they want is a typical response of someone who is in a union. Somone will always protect your lazy butts..Being in a low job market people should be proud to have a job & shouldn’t call off work. Plan your day better ..get intoxicated early maybe have your last drink by 9pm Its not like we won the game .. Your right election funds shouldn’t be used for personal gain but hey who is policing the politicians, its all corrupt…

  • Woman belong in the Kitchen

    Wow Amanda you must be SUPERWORKER, right? I bet you never get sick. How many sick days do you get a year? I bet you would do what ever you had to do to get a job with days off. And what is wrong with Unions, if it was not for unions this would be Mexico not AMERICA. So go back to work and I will see you at the drive-thru window you idiot.

    • Amanda

      wow thanks for proving my point…your over blown ignorant words is why you would need a Union rep… so sad .. 160 employees call off at ACJ hmmm u must have hosted the party that made them all sick..haha. maybe a woman should’ve cooked at your party cause obviously you can’t cut it.. haha

      • Scott

        Good job Amanda, some people only know how to make an argument by name calling. I am a union member and i am sick and tired of the lame excuses made by union people for the lack of professional responsibility. Unions just give workers freedom to do whatever they want, slack off, call off, come in late and never faces the consequences of their actions.

    • hydroxatoneguy

      I agree, WomanKitchen. Unions protect the workers form the slimebag owners. How else can the little guy get the hydroxatone crumbs they throw at him without having his back broke from being dumped with excesive work?

    • Bob

      If it weren’t for unions this country would be Mexico? HAH! If it weren’t for unions maybe our country could still compete in world markets, the only thing unions have done is price several industries out of business with their gimme more attitude. If it weren’t for unions we would still be exporting steel instead of importing it. Unions, what a sad joke!

  • Scott

    If a sporting event is more important than having a job then they should just quit and then they can attend any sporting event they want, then someone who really wants a job and is more responsible can have the job. Then for the union to suggest that they hire more people, WHY? So then they can call off also and face no discipline for their actions. Unions are not about the workers anymore, the are about power and money, the union worker is meaningless.

  • Shift Worker

    If I called off my shift job on a big game day, or even the day following a holiday, I would be disciplined and perhaps fired. I am not in a union. I don’t have to be. I don’t call off for such an occasion. I have a job. My employer hired me to work a schedule. It is important to me to meet that obligation, especially when I know what my calling off will do to my co-workers: they will have to work my shift, even if they’ve already worked an 8- or 12-hour shift already. That’s a tough thing to do to a team member if I’m not really sick. I don’t feel entitled to anything except a paycheck for hours worked. I don’t understand that attitude at all.

  • Level Green

    This is the way the “entitlement society” thinks. I can call off sick any old time I want to.

    USSteel came out last week and warned their employees about taking off Monday but that’s a company, not the spineless government. I can only imagine the same thing happened in most School Districts and PAT today as well.

  • This is news?

    I find this report VERY interesting….good old Marty reports that 160 corrections officers called off but on tonight’s news it was 100. He needs to get his facts straight first before he goes on his witch hunts. The bottom line is that people do call off…right or wrong, it happens. I agree that these workers should have make previous arrangements but who am I to judge and who is anyone here to judge. I don’t work for a union and there are people that call off all the time, are late, do very llittle work and are on facebook all day while “working” and nothing happens to them. It’s part of life people….put your big girl pants on and suck it up. Life isn’t fair and those who do the very little never get caught but the few of us that bust our butts get no love. Frankly I am sick of all of Marty’s witch hunts and will CELEBRATE that day he leaves Pittsburgh!!!!

  • BOP1014

    I am employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I work in a maximum
    security penitentiary with inmate to staff ratio as high as 1 to 130.
    Those who are NOT in law enforcement or corrections will never
    understand. We are asked to work in hostile, life threatening situations
    without weapons, during all hours of the day, on weekends, during
    super bowls, birthdays, holidays, and everything in between. Do we do
    this willingly? Absolutely, no one is breaking our leg to stay. However,
    we do have some expectations. We would like to request a day off (on
    occasion) and have it approved, this never happens, the roster never
    allows for it, there is never enough staff to cover. Additionally, we
    could like those that criticize us to set foot inside an institution and
    does the job before you hit us hard.

    What are out choices? You call off, it is the only way to maintain any
    normal lifestyle; otherwise your job becomes your life and your life
    becomes a distant memory. As a federal employee, I am entitled to 13
    sick days a year and federal law dictates you do not have to provide an
    excuse until calling off for 3 consecutive days. I am not condoning
    their actions and I could care less about unions. I would state that
    having a little respect for your co-workers and thinking about others
    before 160 officers call off would never be a bad thing. Maybe the
    people who showed up for work now getting mandated for 16 to 20 hours
    wanted to watch the game? Those are the things that keep this under
    control, the thin blue line, not management and executives suspending
    you without pay and reprimanding you because the federal, state, and
    local authorities refuse to see the real issue…understaff, overworked =
    low morale.

  • Krista

    I think if you are entitled to sick/personal days, sometimes you have to take advantage of them. Yes, you are messing up the work dynamic, but these same people who called off, had to pick up the slack when their co-workers called off. Not everyone called off this weekend cause of the superbowl. Let’s be honest. We don’t know what these jail guards had going on in the lives that prompted them to call off. Let’s be fair and no name calling!

  • corey

    For those who don’t understand, being in a continuous operation you are always expected to work overtime why doesn’t somebody look up how much overtime these people that called off worked there is such a thing called quality of life, and these employers think they can do whatever they want to the employees its ashame you have to call off just to get a day off

  • John Koval

    I work in a hospital and they had a call off problem too until they implemented a ‘point system’ It supercedes the call off policy. For example, you are allotted 18 points and if you call off you are docked 3; a holiday or weekend 6 points; no pto (paid time off) accrued and call off 6 points. and so on. If you burn up your 18 points, you are either written up or suspended. If it continues then- fired. They also reward the people who dont call off via accruing extra PTO hours, extra days off, free meals if you have to stay over because of a call off. So far it is working.

  • Tyguy

    Right, 100 guards just happen to get sick on the same day. And that day just happens to be the same as the Superbowl. Anyone who thinks that’s just a coincidence is an idiot. Must be nice to have a union job. In the really real world, calling off on the Superbowl or other major event brings immediate suspicion and dissiplinary action if you don’t have written proof. I didn’t want to work that day either, but I did. It’s called being responsible. And as for having lousy hours and days to work, we all do. Few people get to work 9-5 Monday through Friday anymore. These guards that called off should be investigated and perhaps fired if they cannot provide proof of actual illness.

    • This is news?

      Tyguy, so you have NEVER called off when you weren’t sick? You have never needed a day off to get some things done or spend time with family/friends? It must be hard to be so perfect. The bottom line is that a large percentage of people who have sick days do not use them for being sick, they use them for things that they need to do in life or to spend time with family/friends. It happens….you don’t walk in their shoes and until you do or any of us do…..who are we to judge? AND if you read the article it says that they called over over a span of Saturday to Monday. So it wasn’t all just one shift or one day. It was 3 days.

  • Dan

    We all forget the CITY schools were on a 2 hr delay on MON also because of the game…..You cant have it both ways! The city did that for a purpose, they cant expect to fire some jail guard after they did that

  • Jess Sayen

    Since no inmates were killed or escaped, the warden should consider staffing each shift with 100 less guards Everyday!

    • This is news?

      Jess Sayen, if you read the article there was not 100 less guards, people ended up having to do overtime. That is the whole PURPOSE of this article is to get tax payers all bent out of shape. It’s Marty’s thing to talk about on his radio show the next week until he finds some other “breaking news you only hear on KDKA.” But the guards all have sick days given to them……over a period of time when they use their sick days the same thing would happen…..overtime would have to be given somewhere to cover that hole of the person that called off. To be honest Marty really is not putting it in the way that it all boils down to, anytime someone calls off at a 24/7 institution (be it hospital, jail, police, fire, etc) there is a slot needed for overtime so the overtime will always be there as long as you give employees sick day regardless of how many people call off during a superbowl. And let’s not forget last years snow mess…if I recall our public works drivers all called off during the superbowl to watch a game that the Steelers weren’t even in and our roads were HORRIBLE for weeks. Don’t kid yourself, this happens everywhere in the city and county.

  • pamy

    What they failed to report is that in preparation for the game, they took everyone’s day off away from the guards.

  • Concerned

    Perhaps if the guards were allowed to take individual days off or if they had personal days this wouldn’t be such an issue. (They only get sick days and they are not able to schedule any individual days off for vacation. They must be scheduled for a whole week at a time except for one MLK day). Perhaps if the inmates were not allowed out for both the Championship and Super Bowl then this wouldn’t be such an issue. Perhaps if we had an intelligent county budget this wouldn’t be such an issue. All OT should have been budgeted for when they review the amount of sick days the guards get each year and have accrued over to the next year. This starts with the county and the way they schedule and the way they budget. There is no way for the guards to seek retribution. Perhaps this will open up the county’s eyes and let them know there is a problem.

  • Report the facts

    Funny thing is Marty Griffin never reports the complete story. Online yesterday he showed a video of the former union vice president from 2 years ago and had the current union leaders name listed with it.

    Did Marty Griffin state that there may have been $24,000 in ot for that one day but it is all budgeted for with the sick days that the Corrections Officers earn every year?

    Did Marty Griffin inform the public that the inmate population was permitted to stay out of their cells well past normal lock up times to watch the Superbowl and the AFC championship game? Maximum security inmates that under normal routine lock up at 8pm were permitted to stay out until the conclusion of the game. There were fights that day, there were inmates that refused to lock up when ordered to do so, yet they still permitted the general population to stay out to watch the football game. There was ot created that day due to Corrections Officers being forced to escort inmates to a local hospital after a fight, how about that Marty Griffin? What do you think these inmates victims or the victims families would think of this?

    What about all of the county leaders having Steeler and Penguin pep rallies and parties, who pays for that? Is that official government business?
    Who paid for Onorato to go to the Superbowl btw?
    Did he use a sick day yesterday?

  • RJ


  • LEN


    • FixPGH

      “If inmates wanted to see the game, they shoulda stayed home to watch it!”

      You really just said that? They are inmates, they can’t go home! Unfortunately when you take a job, you have a job to do. Is it fair they work Christmas and Thanksgiving? It’s one of those 24 hour jobs like a hospital or emergency response job. There are no days off for everyone. Do that many officers call of for Christmas? Doubtful. This INMATES are stuck there, they don’t just congregate whenever they want at that facility and then officers have to come in…they are there 24/7. Officers and inmates.Wow, real educated.

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